I had no idea I was going to like Le Parfum, the new perfume from fashion designer Elie Saab. As a matter of fact, I thought Elie Saab would provide me with some good fodder for what I call "Dreck Wednesday". You know the type of perfumes: they first appear as an exclusive at Saks or Neiman's, highly overpriced and pushed aggressively by SAs who try to ignore the fact you just asked for an eye cream and a new bottle of L'Heure Bleue. They spray you enthusiastically, nearly miss your left eye and give you attitude when you insists on your classic Guerlain ("but our new perfume is so much more modern and fresh!"). Six weeks later the perfume in question can be found on all the discounter websites, price reduced by 40%.
Elie Saab commissioned rockstar perfumer Francis Kurkdjian to create Le Parfum. Knowing Francis Kurkdjian's work this shouldn't really surprise us: he's a master of orange blossom, neroli and jasmine absolute, all are materials that go well with Elie Saab's exquisite couture gowns on all their delicate lace and sophisticated details.
Now, Elie Saab Le Parfum is not an esoteric hipster boutique fragrance. This is a department store product that's meant to give us mortals who will most likely never own an Elie Saab evening gown a taste of his red carpet glamour. This means a wearable perfume that will be enjoyed by many, smells like a million dollars and won't make one's elevator mates wonder if someone is hiding a ferret in their pocket.
The first time I tried Le Parfum I was instantly reminded of Thierry Mugler's Alien (a Dominique Ropion creation). Alien is a big (huge, actually) and quite aggressive jasmine oriental. I had a very short-lived infatuation with it that ended up with me selling my bottle a few months later. Elie Saab Le Parfum is a refined alternative, perhaps made with better quality ingredients and a more discerning judgement.
I smell mostly jasmine and sweet orange blossom swirling in honey. There's of course more to it and the scent darkens a little and becomes a smooth nectarish thing on the skin. I wear honey notes very well, enjoying both their floral component (like the aroma of Mediterranean orange blossom honey) and the grainy wood in their base. There's a light cheerfulness to Elie Saab Le Parfum, something very sunshiny and optimistic in the way it wafts around me (for hours. Longevity is excellent). It makes me wonder what would happen if I layered this pretty maiden with Miel de Bois. I think I'm going to find out very soon.
I don't know if I should be surprised or not to see my friend CharlstonGirl from Best Things In Beauty enjoying this perfume just as much as I do. Our reaction to fragrance can often be quite opposite, but I guess pretty is pretty, and her point of view is similar to mine.
Top notes: orange blossom
Heart: Sambac jasmine, jasmine grandiflorum
Base: cedar, patchouli, rose honey
Elie Saab Le Parfum ($90, 1.6 oz) is available from top department stores (in the UK it was launched at Harrods). My sample came with a Neiman Marcus purchase.
Images: brautmode-erfurt.de, eliesaab.com and harrods.com